Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Reading For 2016

As anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time knows, I love to read. I was a born reader. Being shy and introverted, for years I loved books more than I did people and found that the characters and worlds inside of books were more real to me than the ones around me. The new Harry Potter book has not come out yet (not that I'm counting down or anything until July 31st . . . ) so what is my summer reading list comprised of while I bide my time?

Here are some of the books I hope to tackle this summer:

Number one on my list is Jonathan Martin's How to Survive a Shipwreck. For our trip to Nashville to support Benjamin as he competes in nationals for software design at T.S.A. (Technology Students Association), I have this book packed and ready to go. I have loved Jonathan Martin's blog ( and sermons. A former Charlotte native, he founded Renovatus Church, though he's now at Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The official site for the book can be found at Here is the trailer:

I am currently reading Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright. Yeah, I know, just a little "light" reading for the summer. Okay, okay, I get it, I don't tend to read a lot of popular fiction or what would be considered reading for mere entertainment, but, like Planet Fitness, this blog is a "judgment free zone." While this book is some seriously heavy theology, it is making me rethink what I thought I knew about the kingdom of heaven and resurrection. One of the quotes that I love from what I have read so far is this one:

What you do in the present - by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself - will last into God's future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until he day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God's kingdom.

Wright expounds on our hope in a new creation but how Christ's resurrection was not just God's plan to snatch us from this world to the next, but that we are to bring about "on earth as it is in heaven." Not necessarily a "beach" read, but an erudite one that is filled with wisdom, grace and hope.

Timothy Keller is one of my favorite pastors whose sermons I listen to through iTunes on my iPod. He is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. His is another blog that I follow regularly ( Many have described Keller as a "C.S. Lewis for the 21st Century." In this book, he looks at one of my favorite parables (misnamed The Parable of the Prodigal Son) and opens it up in a new way, that helps readers to see this overly familiar parable with new eyes and fresh insight. His church works with over 40 faith-based ministries in New York City to meet the social and spiritual needs of that city. 

Eyes to See edited by Bret Lott is a collection of short stories by a variety of great authors who also happen to be Christians. Everyone from G.K. Chesterton to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy to Flannery O'Connor are in here. All of these artists understand what the late Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman meant when he said, "It is my opinion that art lost its creative urge the moment it was separated from worship."

One of the writer's who has had the biggest impact on my faith is Flannery O'Connor. Like her, I have grown up in the "Christ-haunted South." So I was thrilled when I found this biography by Brad Gooch at Goodwill.  From her short stories to her one novel to her collection of letters and prayers, I have been influenced by her clarity, humor and grace. "Your beliefs," she wrote, "will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing." Still, I thank her for helping me to see.

Okay, okay. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." I get it, I get it. After all, I did see Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Yes, yes, there are some "fun" books on my list. The series I'm most excited about starting (as I have loved reading series books ever since I started reading) are the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente. From Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia to Tolkien's Middle Earth to Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci to Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea to, of course, Rowling's Harry Potter books, I have devoured fantasy series books. I love them. Breathe them in like air. Eat them like sweets. And long for more. I get lost in these worlds and love every minute of it. I have heard and read nothing but rave reviews about this fairy tale series so I am looking forward to entering what I hope to be another magical series that will join my favorites. Valente's official website can be found at See, I do like fun books, too.

Lastly, I hope to read Ruth Reichl's memoir Tender at the Bone. No one writes about food the way Reichl does and has done for The New York Times. I love how she writes that "food could be a way of making sense of the world." This is filled with great writing, a love of food and people, and how much we are affected by the meals we shared at our family tables. Her official site can be found at

And, of course, this book. But does Ms. Rowling really need me to promote it for her? I know it's a play. I know that it's based on a story she wrote but that she didn't write the play, but, still, I'll read it because it's Harry Potter and I can't afford to fly to London to see the play. 

That's my unconventional list, thus far, of summer reads. I hope to read all of them, but, if not, they'll join my fall reads.

This was my list, what's yours? 

Please comment and let me know. I'm also looking for one more book to add to my ever-growing "To-Read" list.

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